tv History of Dupont Circle CSPAN January 31, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm EST
on american history tv. the political landscape has changed with the 114th congress. not only are there 43 new republicans and 15 new democrats in the house and 12 new republicans and democrats in the senate there are 108 women in congress including the first woman veteran in the senate. keep track of the members of the congress is in congressional chronicle on www.c-span.org. the page has lots of useful information including voting results and statistics about each session. new congress, best access. >> coming up next, author and architectural historian stephen hansen chronicles the history of one of washington, d.c.'s most famous neighborhoods. mr. hansen tells the story of how and why fashionable families
and couples moved to the area in the gilded age and into the 20th century. he is the author of "a history of dupont circle: center of high society in the capital." the society of cincinnati -- the cincinnati hosted this event. it is just under one hour. >> good evening. i am the museum education manager for the american revolution institute. i am pleased to welcome you tonight for our first program of our winter-spring series. the american revolution institute of the society of cincinnati is a nonprofit organization that works to promote the knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of american independence by supporting advanced scholarship conducting programs, advocating preservation and making resources available to teachers and students. if you are not on our mailing list and would like to be, you can fill up the form in your chair.
you can pick up a copy of our latest calendar of events out front. before this house became the headquarters for the society and institute, it was the home of lars and isabel anderson. in the early 20th century, they desired a home in washington where they could entertain american and foreign dignitaries in a grand setting. they selected a lot in a fashionable neighborhood of dupont circle to be in the center of social activity. tonight, we are pleased to welcome stephen hansen to discuss his book on the social life of dupont circle and the homes during the gilded age including the anderson house. mr. henson is a longtime resident of washington. he is architectural historian and specialist and sometimes activist and author. he is the principal at the preservation term in washington.
he also served as a trustee for the committee of 100 on the federal city and authors the monthly column "what was once in washington, d.c." for the "intowner" newspaper. [applause] >> thank you for coming. it is an honor to be able to talk about my work in the ballroom of the anderson mansion. i would like to start off by talking about how this book came to be. initially, i did not want to write this book. i was writing for the "intowner" newspaper, a monthly column. i was writing about areas all over the city. when i wrote about people and events of dupont circle, i got a lot of positive feedback.
i realized i was having a lot of fun writing articles about dupont circle, so i was writing more and more. eventually, colleagues and friends said you have already written a book on the history of kalorama triangle why don't you write one on the history of dupont circle? i thought it was a gargantuan task. as i gave it thought i realized i could tell an accurate history by selecting certain people and events over time. not all of them, but a stream of them which would give you a sense of the neighborhood over time. i decided i would try to do it. once i got into it, i started having a lot of fun. i signed a book contract with the publisher and was limited to 160 pages. i was up to 160 pages in the first two weeks so i kept fighting with the editor and finally they said 260. no more. so i had to start cutting things out.
i could not go into any person or event in extreme depth like i would want to. that was a challenge. i apologize to those of you who think i left things out. with that, i would like to start talking about the book. i think a lot of you are familiar enough with dupont circle to know it was once home to such notable people as james lane theodore roosevelt, twice william howard taft, and cissy patterson. it was also home to other people that a lot of you are not familiar with or did not know they lived here. that was president grant's widow and her entire extended family, alexander graham bell, and the bell clan, senator george hearst, bloody randolph hearst's father and the cast of the finest from the 19th and 20th century.
they are in the book. i want to discuss the development of dupont circle and how larz and isabel anderson fit into the history of the neighborhood. before dupont circle was born, i would like to go back to about 1800 when the city was starting up. there are basically two classes of tools in what was considered high society. that was the residential society and the official society. members of the residential society consisted of landed, southern, slave owning, democratic families who came to washington during the first administrations of jefferson madison. and they just stayed. some of the notable residential society members were stephen decatur, and dolley madison.
official society consisted of those holding political offices presidential appointees, and members of the foreign diplomatic corps. your status within official society was dependent on how long you were in town during a given year. those in town the longest presidential appointees, supreme court members, were at the top of the pecking order. it worke its way down to senatorsd and sometimes congressman, but they were only here briefly and were too busy to socialize. that was the social makeup of washington until the civil war. as a result of the civil war the democrats -- republicans took over power. the residential society were democrats. a lot of them lost their money and land during the war and left town. some decided to stay.
they had to go underground socially because they were not in favor with the new incoming republicans. they became known as the cave dwellers. they basically went underground and only came to light once in a while when a granddaughter needed a cotillion or they hosted one of their small intimate teas. . they generally only socialized with each other at that point so cave dwellers was an appropriate name. they stayed where they settled around lafayette square. one official society members were moving to washington, they moved around as close to lafayette square as they could themselves. this is a map of the dupont circle area in about 1860. as you can see, there is not a lot going on. down to the south, he see
connecticut avenue. here is lafayette square. that is where the cave dwellers were living. there are a couple of notable exceptions on the map. first of all, the area was not very attractive. there was a stream running through it. it came down from 17th st down towards 17th street. it made this land swampy. john little, a butcher, put his shot at the top of the street at champlain street. he would throw the blood into the stream. it was slowly work its way down into rock creek. in the second half of the 19th century, there was kind of a swamp that had formed here which is now the site of the mayflower hotel. a very popular swimming hole. go figure.
standards have changed since then. a notable resident was william o'neill, the proprietor of franklin house, one of the first boarding houses in town where congressman stayed when making to washington. he had a famous daughter who was the genesis of the petticoat scandal which cost jackson his administration. due to an unfortunate marriage she had shortly after her first husband died. it was believed she was having an affair with this gentleman while her husband was overseas and he possibly committed suicide. peggy had an on and off again relationship with society herself. to the very north this is what is now florida avenue, which was then called boundary street. 19th is the burial ground were
also called the western burial ground. that was started in 1801 and would will -- was one of two cemeteries. the other was congressional cemetery. over the years it filled up. it was not a large space. it was less than one city block. it was condemned in the 1870's, at which point people were burying relatives 3 deep and not always legitimately. they would sneak in in the middle of the night and bury them. when boundary street was lowered, it left the cemetery seven or 8 feet above the grade of the street. a lot of times, caskets would be falling into the street hitting carriages. by the each 70's, there were schoolchildren in the neighborhood. people would look out the window and find boys running around with human bones using them a sword straight at one point, a boy had a sword with a bone he
was using as a standard to lead other kids down the street. the cemetery had notable burials. one was billy o'neill himself. another was james mcgurk, the first man hanged in washington in 1803. he was sentenced to death for coming home and brutally beating his wife. he was buried there because it was a public cemetery. relatives of those buried around mcgurk were upset. at night, they snuck in, dubbed them up, and reburied them outside the cemetery. mcgurk's clan found out about this. the next night, they found the body and redeposited it where it was supposed to be. the next night, the same gentleman came back, doug of the body, and buried it never to be
found again that he thought. about 40 years later, someone was excavating for the house and found human remains. those in the know admitted that is where they put mcgurk. also buried in the cemetery was the lincoln assassination conspirator, lewis payne. i read the other day john phillips sousa john was buried here, but don't believe everything you read. the hopkins brothers set of the brickyard in the 1850's. they spread all over the area. even though will follow -- the font -- l'enfant planned it, it did not go through. it was a big field. hopkins brickyard was in the way. they had to knock some of those out to put the avenue through. some of the prominent early
residents into the 1870's complained the smoke from the council -- kil was coming into their homes at nightm, so there was an act of congress to close the brickyard. this is how things looked until 1871 when congress passed the organic act which gave washington a residentially appointed governor, henry cook, legislative assembly, and a house of delegates. it also created a five-member board of public works of which alexander shepherd was on the board. the governor was the director of the board. shepard was so strong and imposing that henry cook stopped going to the meetings and shepard got his way. he is probably best known at the time for his citywide improvements which involved paving streets laying sewer and drainage, lights, planting trees . but he was very selective in
where he did this. when they were paving streets they were generally ground stone sometimes star, which was experimental at that point. some streets were reserved for poured concrete which was popular and took off later. shepherd went on with this program paving streets and planting around the city. suddenly, folks woke up one morning and saw connecticut avenue was paid with connecticut five lanes wide with lights and water north to florida avenue. what is going on? at the same time, some of the silver miners who made their fortunes in nevada and california had set their sights on washington and he cited washington was the place to invest and settle. they formed a real estate
syndicate officially called the pacific pool. others called it the honest miners club. i am not quite sure how honest these miners were. it was headed up by three gentlemen. judge hiller, representative william stewart from nevada, and thomas sutherland. they started buying up all the land around upon circle. they claimed they had no idea alexander shepherd was going to be improving the area at the same time. i do believe for some reason. what happened was the bottom fell out of the silver market. there was a big push at time to start making gold the standard, monetary standard. so the gentleman really suffered from this, and their fortunes were compromised.
hillard survived because he was a good lawyer and kept his practice in california so he kept a steady income and could stay the course in washington. william stewart's fortunes were wiped out. the head an on and off again political career in washington and was forced to go back to nevada and work as a lawyer to try to make more money. he did amass another good fortune. what happened was you have these two gentleman still owning all this land and their fortunes were diminishing quickly. they said we have got to build something in the neighborhood that will attract investors and buyers to buy up our lots, and we will start making back some of our money and hopefully a huge profit. they pressured william stewart into building first. in 1873, he contracted at employees -- adam plouth to
construct a large house, which was then 1 dupont circle. it was called stewart's castle and sometimes stewart's folly because it was the middle of nowhere. people thought you are trying to get investors and you build a house out here? but it did become the center of social life, and people made the trip up to dupont circle for lavish dinners and parties. stewart lost his seat to william clark, another story i will not get into tonight. he went back to nevada. his wife got tired of the west coast and moved back to the house alone with a companion. it was in the winter, in december. she was invited to the british ambassador's house for dinner new year's eve. when she got there someone was
banging on the door saying mrs. stewart, your house is on fire. so she went back to the house and found a house in flames. no one had checked to see if there was any water in the boiler. up to that point, it had been a warm winter. the house caught fire and had to be rebuilt. shortly after stewart finished his house hillard jumped in and built his house at the edge of town on massachusetts avenue n florida avenue. it was a fine second empire house. in the 1880's, stewart, still in need of money, decided to rent out stewart's castle. the rented it to the chinese ambassador and the litigation staff. this was an interesting period
for the house. the ambassador did not entertain much. he had the habit when he wanted his guests to leap to burn red pepper to burn their eyes to the point they would be running out the front door. the problem was years of burning red pepper left a lot of stains on the walls and furniture. also, the chinese were big opiate smokers which also left a lot of stains. the fine european furniture stewart -- the stewart's brought back from europe had been burned and soiled. while the chinese were there they became a public spectacle. they did things like take their laundry out to dupont circle to lay it out to dry. they would run around and play hide and seek in the bushes at night. this attracted a lot of curious washingtonians. one of the popular sunday afternoon endeavors was to come to dupont circle and see if you could spot the chinese staff doing things.
the problem was when they gathered on the balconies in the summer to get air, crowds would gather steering -- staring. so the police had to come along and shoo them away. we have our first two big houses in the dupont circle area. things did not start to take off until 1873 when the british minister at the time, this was before it was an embassy. sir edward norton decided england should build a permanent building in washington. this was the first foreign building built in washington. before that for years, the british delegation had been next to st. john's church. that building is still there. sir edward hired john fraser, a philadelphia architect, to build this wonderful second empire
house on the corner of connecticut avenue. as soon as this house was built the british delegation became the center of washington high society. you were not anybody until you have been invited to a reception or dinner at the legation building. that would knock your status up even higher if the legation staff came to one of the functions in your home. in 1880, a representative from maine, james blaine, also decided to build in dupont circle. blaine was a two-time presidential candidate and a professional secretary of state. i think he served under four separate presidents. by 1880, he amassed enough money, probably legitimately, to
build this large house at 2000 massachusetts avenue which still stands today. he had just been appointed secretary of state to garfield. garfield was assassinated months later, so blaine did not last long in the new administration and did not have enough money to support this house the staff and entertaining that went with it. in 1883 -- by 1883, he had bought a house on lafayette square renovated it, and moved there. he rented this house out to a relatively unknown family from chicago called the lighters -- leiters. over time, they would change the face of washington society. at the same time blaine was building his house washington was seeing a new wave of immigration.
this was two different sets of people. it was the military set and the nouveau riche. the military set consisted of high-ranking military officers following the great union generals to washington, namely ulysses s. grant philip chariton, hoping to fill the newly created positions high-paying positions, in the navy department. that was one set of the military. the others followed the generals to washington but were already wealthy and did not have to work when they got here. they came to get involved in political power. this included the andersons, larz's father and mother from cincinnati, the boardmans from cleveland. that house still stands on 18th st as the iraqi council.
the other set worthy nouveau riche. these people made their fortunes either during or based on the civil war, either legitimately or not legitimately. they had a lot of money at this point. mark twain detested them. in his 1872 book, "the gilded age," he named them they were that is a corruption of the french verb meaning to have arrived. these people had suddenly arrived in society. he characterized them in one family patrick o'reilly, his wife and daughter. patrick o'reilly made a fortune selling nails to the government during the civil war -- overpriced nails to the government during the civil war. when the war was over, he toured europe with the purpose of
learning to speak english with a foreign language. he returned to washington to take his new place in society. he was now the honorable patri cke, and his wife was a lady. they change thed spelling of o'reilly to what he thought was the french spelling, who was actually the french were that meant year. he continued to pronounce his name o'reilly but with french. pardon his -- the parvenous were considered crass and not accepted by the cave dwellers. larz's moved to washington. in 1880, they contracted the famous architect to build this house on k street. this is right in the middle of cave dwellers intentionally.
they became cave dwellers themselves. the house no longer stands. was lucky to find an image of the house in a book. one of the first parvenous to move to washington was anastasia patton and her five daughters. she had gotten her money from her husband. she was a widow. he had made his fortune in nevada in gold, a much more stable basis for wealth than silver of the time. she had five daughters. after her husband died, she took them to europe on a grantor that lasted eight years. when they came back, anastasia bought five or six house lots across the street from curtis hilliard and contracted architect robert fleming to build this house.
when they went to tear it down it took three months because it was so solidly built. one of the things i found interesting about the five patten daughters is they were everywhere all the time and socially interchangeable. i was trying to track them down in society pages and whatever i could. the papers always included miss patton is one of the attendees or is hosting a tea. they were interchangeable. no one knew which one was which. they spread out. they would cover every event in the city on any given evening. patons became famous for their tea. you can probably guess they became spinsters and were serving tea into the 1930's. two of the sisters married. the first was a gustaugusta who married john glover. glover was the first mail to live in the house.
shortly thereafter, a big feud broke out with the glovers about augusta's inheritance because she had lent him money. the sisters claimed that was her inheritance and he was claiming that was just a loan to cover the political campaign. the feud got some nasty they got kicked out of the house excommunicated from the family and she never returned. edith married late and made a gentleman even older general henry corbin, a civil war general, so imagine how old he was in 1901. one of the interesting things about edith in 1901 was she still had not received her inheritance. one of the things in the mother's will was no daughter could get their inheritance if they were going to get married.
the other sisters had to give their blessing. they gave their blessing to general corbin. years before edith was engaged to somebody else. the invitations have been sent out. it was in the paper. at the last minute, the sisters decided they did not approve and it was called off. the leiters i am calling the parvenous par excellence because they would change the face of washington. they were probably telling everyone how much they were paying for rent trying to give the impression money was no obstacle. but everyone in town realized they were being taken in by blaine. levi leiter was one of the
founders of marshall field's, later became marshall field's department store. when he died, he was worth over $1 billion in today's money. in 1891, the leit decided to make washington their permanent homeers. they had been coming here for the social season, and then everyone left town. they went to newport, bar harbor , or europe. the worst thing to do would be to be in town. of course, the cave dwellers had to stay in town. they did not have money so they watched the wealthy people come and go. very lighter -- mary leiter was very ambitious. she was a schoolteacher before she was married, in chicago. she was famous for her malaprop'ss.
several of them you have probably heard. when she came back from europe, someone met her at the dock and asked how it felt be back in the united states. she replied she was relieved to have her feet on american terra-cotta again. [laughter] one of her favorite things to do was to show guests in the house one of the acquisitions in the house which she said was a bust of her daughter's hand by rodan. terapin soup was always the starter course is a delicacy. everybody had to have it. she did not like it and pushed the ball away. mary leiter stood up and said you cannot refuse it, costs $100 a bowl. that quickly made the press. people like to talk about the leiter and less about them, but
everyone ended up loving them and was happy to receive an invitation. you were never quite sure how you would be received. sometimes mary would run a silk cord across the ballroom. on one side were the elite guests. you never knew which side he would be on. at one point, mary had a battle with the cave dwellers. when it was time for her daughter to come out, mary scheduled a cotillion ball. happened to be the same night the cave dwellers were holding their annual dance. the cave dwellers wrote to mary leiter and said, would you consider moving the night of your cotillion? she wrote back and said no, move yours. war broke out. society in washington was upset because many were receiving invitations to both events.
very light are made it clear if you did not show up at her cotillion, do would be stricken from her invitee list. the plan was to go to the cave dwellers ball first and then move on to mary leiter's. when everyone got to the cave dwellers ball, the old women were blocking the door so nobody could leave. [laughter] general grant's grandson, received an invitation to both, bribed one of the waiters to let him out through the kitchen. he ran across dupont circle and made it to marry lighter -- mary leiter's in time. others figured this out. the waiter had his pockets stuffed with money. mar was so significanty the
parvenous who had been looked down upon for years became elevated to their own social set which was nicknamed "the smart set." mary was the reigning queen of the smart set. the leiters headquartered children. she realized it would elevate their status if her daughters could marry titled europeans. it worked. the youngest daughter married overlord was a huge wedding at st. john's church. the president attended. everybody attended. lord chris on became the viceroy of india. when she died, she was the highest ranking american in the
british court at the time. nancy, the middle daughter, she got all the looks and the family -- in the family. when she was visiting in india she met colonel clark and got married. mary married suffolk. the sun was interesting and a robber baron in his own right. when he graduated from harvard, his father gave him $1 million to see what he could do with it read to try to corporate elite market in chicago. other traders found out and the bottom fell out of the wheat market. joseph lost $1 million and more, and his father had to bail him out. he earned it back multiple after that. he also inherited the house as well. he was known for extravagant spending.
he would buy 1000 pairs of silk socks. when he tried to purchase the great wall of china his sister daisy decided that was enough and sued him for financial mismanagement of the family estate. this was in court for years, and she ultimately lost. one person i find very interesting is a person who made the transition from cave dweller to the smart set. that was mary townsend who spent her early years on love yet square. her father was a congressman from pennsylvania and owned a good-sized house. she married richard townsend then president of the year e-pierie-pennsylvania railroad.
they moved back into the old house which was not large enough. she had an addition put on, a large dining room. at the time, the thing to do was to have large dinner parties. the intimate teamss of the cave dwellers were passe. that dining room proved not to be large enough so she went looking for a larger home. she said her eyes on hilliard's house across the street. mary had this incredible phobia. she believed if she ever moved into a new house, she would die. bill your house -- the house was still not large enough to hurt -- for her entertaining needs and she worked with the architects and took the house and encased and expanded it. when you look at thisat the
original house, is somewhere inside. in certain closets, you can still see the original house. around the back, you can still see part of the original face. mary had a large house. it was not new. you and richard moved in. richard was riding a horse in rock creek the year they moved in and was thrown and killed. maybe she did not dispel the curse. minnie was wise. she made friends with the patent sisters across the street. you did not want them against you. they were quite prudish by 1900 and probably not privy to everything going on in the towns in house. many had a reputation for arranging and hosting trysts in the house. one notable one with cissy patterson -- was cissy patterson
and a diplomat. minni was known for lavish entertaining. at one point, her entertaining budget per year was said to be $240,000 in old money. the club acquired the building in 1950. minnie was a little distraught because during her first dinner party, she had to pull the guests away from her front window. they were staring across the street wondering what was going on. across the street, the anderson mansion was starting to go up. they were competitive about who could throw the bigger dallas -- galas. this was 1902. larz was the son of nicholas anderson. his mother still lived in the
house at k street. larz and isabel could have moved into the house was not stylish and not in the invoke area of town, which was dupont circle. when larz married isabel, she had recently inherited $17 million. i spent time trying to calculate what that is in today's dollars. i came up with several figures. the low end is $378 million. on the high, depending on how it is measured, in dollars, buying power, or power and influence it is up to $11.7 billion. isabel was the wealthiest woman in america when she married larz . they bought these house lots from the patent sister's. it is said the anderson's never
felt totally comfortable in this house because the patt sisters would spy on themon. they were known to talk to the staff. they would call larz's mother and tell her. she was a proper woman and did not approve. larz was getting an earful. it was not always the best fit. larz had a short but distinguished diplomatic career. through his friend from harvard robert todd lincoln, he got appointment. he became the first embassy to rome and then served a stint for belgium and japan. after that, he retired. but no one entertained like the andersons. this seems like a shot out of
"delta and abby -- downton abbey." they were outliers socially. they loved to entertain official society, cave dwellers, for indignities with the wealth and ostentatiousness the smart set can only hope for. the andersons would hold dinners and the staff would be dressed in white wicks with makers and patent shoes. isabel was not an idle society woman. she wrote several children's books and plays. she wrote a book about her life in washington called "presidents and pies." it is an interesting read. it is sort of written from the top down of society.
she seems very innocent describing all of the events, and wonderful people what they were wearing, where they went, and what they ate. she seemed to miss the darker underbelly of washington society. in her book, she does innocently mention, introducing the italian duke to kathryn elkins, the daughter of representative stephen elkins, one of official society. this started a torrid affair. everyone assumed catherine would marry her childhood friend. the event on for years. she disappeared to europe. there would be reports of a tryst wherever. she would come back and deny it. the duke would the diet -- deny it. at one point, they plan to get
married. he tried to renounce his title. that did not work. elkins tried to offer a gallery of $1 million but that did not dissuade the dowager queen. after one of their last trysts, she came back to washington and married billy hitt. the duke died brokenhearted years later. when he died, there was one photograph of kathryn elkins in the coffin. marriage to billy hitt did not last long. she took a boat to paris. he was notified she was in paris seeking divorce. he took the boat over, met her there, and they got divorced. on the way back, they share the same kevin -- cabin.
other passengers were not sure they were divorced. they came back, lead separate lives, and two years later got married again. billy hitt grew up in a house no longer there across from the leiters. his mother was a cave dweller. it was torn down in the 1960's. during world war i everyone in town was expected to contribute to the war effort. society women were no exception. during the war, naval wharton -- mabel wharton was heading up the american red cross and organizing society women for the war effort, sending packages to the front. she was having a meeting one afternoon with isabel anderson.
i am not quite sure how this came about, but suddenly mabel came up with the idea of the washington refreshment court which would feed soldiers passing through washington. i'm not sure if she was serious about this or just trying to find something for isabel to do. isabel took it and ran. she started off with 36 volunteers and ended up with 150 in charge of stocking a kitchen trailer and sandwich truck. this is the staff in the backyard of the anderson house preparing sandwiches. this is her famous traveling kitchen truck. she also housed the truck overnight in the anderson carriage house. isabel took her sense of responsibility a step further a lot further than most washington society women did.
in 1917, isabel left for europe and spent eight months on the front lines with the american red cross servicing the canteen and working in hospitals in belgium and france on the fronts. she was later awarded the french medal and the american red cross canteen medal. i had read "presidents and pies." i was rereading it a few days ago. every once in a while, she will mention the front, but never a description of any of the horrible experiences and sites she must have seen. i think she wanted to focus on pleasant life in washington. after the war, the andersons were barely in washington at all. they rented the house out to foreign dignitaries ambassadors
and their staff. larz died in 1937. is about, having no use for the house, donated it to the society of cincinnati. isabella died in 1948 at the age of 72. just to close, larz had a cousin , nicholas longworth the representative from ohio and long-term speaker of the house. nicholas married teddy roosevelt's eldest daughter. in 1925, they bought the house at 2009 massachusetts avenue and moved in with their one-year-old daughter, paulina. polymath -- paulina by alice,'s
on admission, was not nicholas' child. she had been having a long-term affair. when alice was carrying paulina she was thinking of calling her debra. people got wind of this and started referring to her as aurora borealis, and she became simply paulina. nicholas died in 1931. alice state in the house and became a political powerhouse and broker. she could make or break a political career. if you wanted a political career, you had to try to get on her good side, which was not easy. to keep your career, you stayed on it. at one point, people said she cost duly -- dewey the election
because she referred to him as the little man on the wedding cake with a pencil mustache. at a party, joe mccarthy walked up to her and said i think i will call you alice. she responded the trash man and policeman on my block call me alice, but you may not. she told lyndon johnson she wore widebrimmed hats to keep them from kissing her. [laughter] at one point he insisted on showing her his appendix scar. she turned around and said thank goodness it was not his prostate. of all her quips when she is most noted for is, "if you can't say something good about somebody, come sit by me." there were several versions. i think this got boiled down to fit on her pillow. she stayed in the house for
years, during the riots of the 1960's. one night, she opened her window and got a face full of tear gas as police were trying to dispel demonstrators. they said, mrs. longworth how did you deal with the tear gas? she said it cleared her sinuses. [laughter] eventually, she adopted her granddaughter legally. there was quite a legal battle with the father's family. the granddaughter became the daughter alice never had. paulina committed suicide. she always had a torrid relationship with her mother. the granddaughter took over and kept in ion her especially in her last years. at a talk i gave, a woman said she interviewed alice on her 90th birthday in her house.
she said she was a new reporter for "newsweek." this was her first assignment. alice cannot remember who she was or why she was there, so it was hard getting an interview out of her. she died in 1980 at the age of 96. she was the first of teddy roosevelt's children to be born and the last to die, quite a long span. to me, she was the last surviving psion -- scion of dupont circle's gilded age. with that, i would be happy to answer any questions you have. [applause] yes. i think there is a microphone.
>> [indiscernible] i'm wondering in terms of social relations [inaudible] >> yes, they socialized with everybody. >> [inaudible] >> yes, it is. it is now home to a law firm, international law firm. >> [indiscernible] around dupont circle? >> yes. the question is did alice go for midnight rides with her friends around dupont circle? the russian ambassador's daughter had a car. she would sneak out of the house late at night and take off
hiccup alice -- picked up alice and other friends. the police stopped her several times for speeding around dupont circle going over 15 miles an hour. >> they would go on horses around the area? >> casini liked to ride in rocky -- rock creek park. >> i can talk loudly. what was alice's relationship with f.d.r.? i know there was tension between the two sides of the family. d know anything about that? >> alice to put it mildly, did not like f.d.r. alice was a republican. f.d.r. was the other side of the family. alone or was alice's -- eleanor
was alice's cousin. franklin was a second cousin. alice was never kind to her and quite vicious. in their later years, they mended fences and became friends. she never supported f.d.r. and was outspoken about it. >> i know you spoke about some members of congress that came and frequented dupont circle. i know some supreme court justices also frequented the circle. did you research anything about that -- did your research bring up anything about that? >> yes, there were several supreme court justices who did live on dupont circle. with so many people staring at me, i cannot tell you which ones. [laughter] >> how many of the great houses
of that age remain out in washington -- now in washington? how many of the houses are still here and have not been bulldozed or made into office buildings? >> tonight i focused around upon circle. if you go of new hampshire which was the prime spot after the leiters first built at the foot of new hampshire, there are still grand mansions. coming out this way there are probably five or six -- not the grand palaces but significant brick houses still stand. tens. anything south of dupont is gone basically.
>> one more question. i'm wondering how the [indiscernible] fit in. >> that is a good question. christian technically i guess you could say you was part of the smart set. he was a foreigner. he tended to be a workaholic. he was not that social. i don't think he fit too much into the social life of this part of the circle. he was very wrapped up in the german immigrant community, so that think -- so i think that is where a lot of his social energies went. [applause]
>> sunday afternoon at 4:00, join us for "reel america" for archival films that take you on a journey through the 20th century. this color film documents the living conditions of japanese-americans held in internment camps during world war ii. that is tomorrow at 4:00 eastern. >> this sunday, the neuroscientist on the recent discoveries about the teenage brain. >> they don't have the frontal lobes to reason, cause and effect, consequences of actions are not clear to them because the frontal lobes are not as readily accessible. they have frontal lobes. the connections cannot be made as quickly for decision-making. a lot of the hormones are changing in the body of young
men and women. the brain has not seen these yet in life until teenaged years so the brain is trying to learn how to respond to these new is trying to learn how to respond to these new hormones that are rolling around and locking onto receptors and synapses of different types. i think that this contributes to the very roller coaster kind of experience that we watch as parents. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on "q&a." >> boston college history professor heather cox richardson talks about how cowboys became a symbol for a newly reunited america during reconstruction using examples of jesse james, buffalo bill. professor richardson explains the counterbalance to the recovered in -- the republican govern